Also, yesterday was just as bad. I had to take Sandy to see her law guardian which is really far away for us. 90 minutes and hundreds of steps each way. My breaking point (if breaking was an option) would have been when Sandy squirmed out of her stroller and threw herself onto the piss flooded subway elevator floor. I’m not a germaphobe but I can’t imagine anything worse. Then when I pulled her up she flopped out of her shirt. The station was crowded, everyone was black and I’m the white mom wrestling my half-naked black daughter on a floor full of piss.
Asia’s favorite part of the story (as in she had me tell the case worker so they could laugh at the idea of ‘white’ me shouting on a train) is when we finally made it onto the next crowded subway and I’m dragging an unfolded stroller in one hand and holding Sandy (kicking EVERYONE) in the other and I saw an empty seat but no one moved and instead they just stared at us. I finally exasperatedly/semi-shouted over Sandy’s screams "I just really need to get to that seat right there" and people moved (very quickly actually). I don’t even remember what that tantrum was about, I think Sandy wanted to push her own stroller onto the train tracks or something impossible like that.
And another thank-god-for-Asia moment…. as soon as we got home I dropped Sandy with her, told her why she needed a bath and why I needed a walk. May every parent have someone to save them when they need that walk.
Today was one of those days where I kept thinking “I am totally sucking at this parenting thing”. Everything went wrong. I’ll preface by saying what I’ve been reluctant to say- Sandy is an empirical handful. I’ve finally had enough people tell me how challenging her behavior is - and we’ve been in enough environments for me to see that other kids her age aren’t this difficult.
The real issue is that Sandy’s SO STRONG. When it’s time to put her shoes on and she refuses (like a normal toddler) and I eventually have to sit her down and just put them on, she rears back in my lap and head-butts me sooooo hard. I can’t tell you how many times she’s busted open my lip. I could go on and on. I don’t think she’s abnormal or ADHD or anything like that- she’s just at ‘that age’ combined with the reality that she spends 6 hours a week at the foster agency - and has for her entire life. I’m done denying to myself that she’s not affected by foster care because the visits have a huge impact on her. She literally runs wild the entire time. She’s surrounded by kids drowning in trauma and acting out in ways beyond my imagination. She learns a new terrible behavior each week. Not to mention the behavior of the adults who are also in crisis. Then there’s the issue of discipline and setting boundaries which no one is doing. It’s confusing- no one likes to parent in public, particularly if you’ve already been deemed a bad parent.
In African dance class Sandy is a mess and the teacher is always talking to her. I haven’t left her with *anyone except Asia and Liz in almost a year. Asia’s mom has even said that she’s “too much”.
Anyway, that was more confessional than complaining. The real issue is that we were supposed to go to the pumpkin patch today with Meghan and Snap’s baby brother. Meghan came over but Sandy just would not get dressed. She would run away, purposefully hit Clemmie and any attempts to grab her and dress her are fruitless because she’s so strong she kicks her way out. She even pulled out a chunk of Meghan’s hair. She didn’t take a nap because I made the mistake of telling her we were going to the ‘pumpkin farm’ and then I couldn’t find the basement key to get the car seat. Also, I couldn’t find Clemmie’s other shoe and all along I kept thinking to myself “You KNEW that the trip was going to be too much” but I believed that I should be able to handle 2 children and a fucking farm for goodness sake. People handle dozens of children all the time.
Then the day ended with one of the girls (I’m kind of glad I don’t know which one) throwing my new iphone out the window and rendering it dead. It’s like when you’re down the dominos keep falling.
Meghan said that for most kids you can’t take your eye off of them for 30 seconds but for Sandy it’s 5 seconds. My first thought was “Do you know how much damage can be done in 5 seconds??” Sandy would have left the apartment building and boarded a bus to New Jersey in 5 seconds. My apartment is very, very small but I still follow her into every room. Even with me watching her she almost shatters the computer screen with a hair brush. I so very much want her out of the system so we can channel her energy, time and visit transportation money (I spend $160 a month) into something positive and structured.
*Update: I thought of one more friend who kept her once
came from Emily Gould. She told me that I probably won’t ever be happy letting someone else tell my story. Once I give it away it’ll be shaped by that person and the narrative of their own liking. It took a while for me to really understand this and fortunately it sunk in just in time.
People are always asking me about a book. Obviously, I like writing. Who in New York isn’t writing a book? But I didn’t become a foster parent to write ”My 365 2,190 Days as a Foster Parent”. I didn’t even start this blog until after I had a foster child, Snap, and he was returned to his mom. Even then the purpose was that I felt alone but I was pretty darn sure I wasn’t unique. “If you build it, they will come” and now look at all of you people and our community!
Anyway, I won’t be writing a book unless I feel as though I can really change something by it. In the meantime, I’m all about the micro with my two little super stars and my outdated tumblr.
this isn't going to be a popular post- my bitterness against media people
I get a lot of media requests. At first it made me feel really important and interesting and I liked it. Then I had a handful of bad experiences and I felt cheap and exploited so haven’t answered any requests in a few years.
I was in a documentary for a while. It was legit, approved by the ACS commissioner and whatnot. The director had won lots of previous awards for her last documentary on adoption. This one was going to be about me and Jacket. Based on my media experience I thought I was prepared and I laid-out my boundaries before agreeing to be filmed. Specifically, I didn’t want Jacket’s mom contacted or involved. There were too many risks and I had ethical concerns. The woman doing the documentary agreed. I shared with her how I had been pressured by media people in the past to put them in contact with my kids’ birth moms and that it made me uncomfortable. She seemed very empathetic.
After filming began she started to push about needing to film from “the other side” aka the birth mom’s. I told her that I could possibly find some birth parents to recommend but given my circumstances, Jacket’s mom was off limits. I reminded her that I knew this was a media/story-telling thing and that’s why I brought it up before filming started. However, the director made some statements about how she has “ways to do these things” and about her avenues to make contact on her own. I FREAKED and shut the whole thing down. I didn’t even explain myself, I just shut it down. I didn’t feel as though I could trust her anymore.
You can guess where this is going… now she has a film out. It’s won a ton of awards already. People clueless about my past involvement want me to promote it. The director herself even contacted me at one point to her help promote the film. I guess she didn’t get it. The film is probably good. It just makes me feel gross. I thought I wanted to be that ‘voice’ but I guess I don’t. I wish people would stop creating non-profits and art projects and films and fundraisers and roll-up their sleeves and become actual foster parents. It really is the dirty work that higher income people won’t do.
These are my own issues, I know, I know. Any small difference in my life up to now and I would be doing any number of the more glamorous foster care ‘awareness’ projects. They aren’t wrong, I’m sure they’re helpful. Something about though just grates my tits (an awesome saying my English roommate’s posh mom would use). And there are a million legit reasons to not be a foster parent. And if I was a billionaire I wouldn’t want to be pinned down to nyc having to beg the government months in advance to travel outside the state. But anyway….
If I wasn’t concerned about sounding like a complete bitch, I’d write a top 10 things NOT to do if you want to interview, follow-around, film or suck information out of a foster parent (e.g. if you ask for 2 hours, don’t then ask to hover around for 3 additional days unless you are willing to do dishes and laundry- you’re presence is a drain no matter how sweet you are).
There have been a few exceptions, for example, my experience doing "The Story With Dick Gordon" was practically magical (Susan, how can I get the archive again?).
Anyway, it felt good to write out my grievances. Blogs are great for that.
Sandy has full conversations now. 99% of them are about Clementine. Where she is (always only a few feet away), what she’s doing, what Sandy thinks she wants (everything), what she thinks Clemmie should be doing, what happens if Clemmie does what she wants her to, what Clementine ate today, what else she might eat……
I’m constantly thinking about the outpouring of help and support I received during that first tough year of getting Sandy and Clementine only 3 months apart. Even if you sent an email and I didn’t respond, I’m still remembering it and feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
I think all the time about how I wish every foster parent had as much support and love as I did. Minus quitting my job and organizing volunteers full-time, I want to be helpful. Recently I’ve been daydreaming of Sandy, Clemmie and I being our own little volunteer fosterhood team in a few years. We could hook-up with families that have received new foster children and run errands for them, cook some meals, fold laundry, whatever they need. I think it would be so good for us as a family and a neat full circle experience.
What I sometimes call Sandy and Clementine because every time I go to the bathroom they race in knocking each other down. Then they stand with all of their hands on my knees, waiting. Sandy’s waiting to be the first to flush the toilet and Clemmie is waiting for me to take the toilet paper down (it’s hidden from her reach) so she can shred it like Edward Scissor-hands and toss it in the tub.
Asia finds out on Tuesday if she’s going to start her corrections officer training on Thursday or if she’s being bumped to February’s class. The suspense is killing me. I have an action plan either way.
was to dress Sandy as Olivia Pope. Clementine would have made the BEST Huck with a drawn-on five o’clock shadow and a flannel shirt. I would have gone as Melly from this season in PJ’s and a box of cereal. I wanted Logan to be Quinn.
I have a new post up on babble.com where I talk about the white, lesbian mom who is suing her sperm bank for mistakenly giving her a black man’s sperm. She’s asking for $50,000- I think she should get a lot more.
P.S. I had a totally different title but whatever.
I’m getting super excited about Clementine’s adoption day, October 30th. My attorney said I can invite anyone and everyone. I’m serious when I say that if you think the 10 minute (or shorter) adoption proceeding is something you would enjoy, I’d love to have you there. Particularly all of those people who were so helpful in our early, chaotic days.
It’s in Brooklyn at 9am. We’re going to Juniors afterward for breakfast where Asia swears Clementine has celebrity status for her ability to scarf down plates and plates of beets.
I’m much more likely to bitch about craziness than to praise competent case workers, so this post is dedicated to Sandy and Clementine’s awesome case workers. So glad to have capable, sane and reasonable people to work with!
I’m going to continue with visits. It’ll be different from Clementine in that Clementine’s parents ‘surrendered’ with stipulations of our agreed visitation schedule. With Sandy, I will have no obligations whatsoever. Morally and ethically however if feel as though I do. Visits probably won’t be as frequent as with Clementine’s family (1x a month)- but I will offer a predictable schedule. In the case of both Clementine and Sandy’s birth parents, if they do anything I deem unsafe or otherwise damaging to the girls, all bets are off.
I think the visit venue is key. I’m not doing McDonald’s. It majorly bums me out that McDonald’s ends up being the “community visit” location for most foster kids. It’s not a reflection of foster care, but rather on the lack of free, kid-friendly places people can meet in NYC when the weather is bad (most of the year).
I’ve already decided we’ll have our visits at one of the children’s museums. I think it’s a good place because the pressure is off to keep the kids entertained, it’ll be noisy and busy enough that I can be there without feeling as though I’m breathing on top of them.
There are free days/times at most museums but they probably won’t coincide with everyone’s schedule. I don’t mind footing the bill but I wish they had a yearly membership that could work for us. Like a family plus, plus membership. It would be good PR for them to figure something like this out.
I’ve always greatly disliked the nickname ‘baby’- for lots of reasons. However, when I first got Sandy I wasn’t told her name and the paper work only said “Baby Girl Jackson*” So we called her “Baby Girl J” or “Baby Girl” and then eventually it was shortened to “Baby”. After a few days I got her name in writing but I had no idea how it was pronounced (her mom eventually told me) so “Baby” stuck as a nickname and now I like it.
Court today for Sandy. It went as expected, but I saw how easily things can shift and change. The judge accepted the goal change for adoption. I actually didn’t know that was a court decision up for grabs. I thought that when the foster agency changed the goal last April to adoption that was it.
I *think* the TPR trial will be in December. But then, I thought it was going to be this past summer. There’s all this court stuff still like an “F.E.T.” and “Discovery” and a “Dispo” on something from the past. I’m once again super grateful for my attorney to sort it out and push the case forward. I see how these cases go on and on forever and ever.
Runfostermama said that Clem’s brother took a Rosh Hashanah book to pre-k for show-and-tell but he wasn’t allowed to share it. They made him talk about his shirt instead.
Too religious I guess? I’m still trying to get a handle on what/which Jewish holidays are celebrated by secular Jews. Chanukah and Passover seem to be the ones with the most events but since public school let’s out for two whole days for Rosh Hashanah (yesterday and today) it makes me think I’m missing something.
Last night we were out and Sandy kept shouting “Oww!” And pointing at the trees. Then she’d say it again and point at the sky. She said it at least 100 times. Finally I figured out that she was expecting to find OWLS because most of her books that show nighttime include owls.